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Saturday, July 20, 2013

July 20, 2013: A Shopper's Guide to Firenze

Okay, here are my directions for successful bargain shopping in Florence. Some of it is obvious, but some points are real lessons I've learned.

When in the market a la Sant'Ambrogio:

  1. Do your best to make friends, and speak as much Italian as you can. Even if it's bad, the locals really appreciate it when you try to speak their language. Many of them know English, so you can at least communicate between your broken Italian and their broken English.
  2. Shop at the same stand for at least one item, such as fruit or meats. Bonding with the people is part of the experience, and trust me, when you're vacationing alone, it's nice to see a familiar smiling face.
  3. Sample as much food as you can. Duh!
  4. Don't over-buy- the market is open every day, and you want your food fresh! They don't do grocery shopping like I do at home (Peapod by Stop & Shop) and buy a week's worth at once. Going to the market is a daily ritual!

When in the market a la San Lorenzo:

  1. You might hate to read this, but if you're a woman, go talk to the men. They love the attention, and usually will give you a cheaper price if you smile at them. Don't judge me.
  2. ONLY carry a limited amount of cash on you. This is for a couple of reasons: Number 1, pick-pockets. Number 2, if you can prove that you don't have enough cash to pay 30E for a cheaper leather purse, they will be so desperate to keep your business that suddenly, that bag is now worth 20E. Happened to me today (I keep 20E in the main part of my wallet, and stash the rest in the change purse part. Get's 'em every time).
  3. Shop the ENTIRE market. Write down prices that other vendors have quoted you on the same items, and use that information while you're shopping at the stand that you really want to buy from. I had three different quotes for a small leather handbag today. 35, 20, and 13. Seriously! All I had to do was tell the 35E guy that someone down the street offered me 13, and I had 'em.
  4. Most important: When they tell you the price, frown, shake your head, and start to walk away. They'll literally run after you and ask you YOUR price. Always give them the lowball answer and you'll end up paying a fair price for it.
  5. Scarves and little things: buy multiples from the same person. They will reduce the price for each if you buy a few!
  6. Jewelry: It's junk here. Go to the Ponte Vecchio for the real stuff that will last forever! You'll spend more, but they're real metals that will always be a keepsake of your trip.
  7. Always know you can get the same product from another vendor (possibly next door), so don't get your heart set on one thing, thinking you'll never be able to purchase it after the guy gives up trying.
  8. Have fun! It's a game. 
Masks at San Lorenzo

Hats at San Lorenzo

San Lorenzo Market

Dark skies at the Duomo!

Crazy concert seating set-up in Santa Croce for Roberto Benigni. This dude made my walk home super long tonight. Damn you, Roberto.

Florence has all of my money.

Cool sculpture on Ponte Alle Grazie

Gorgeous Ponte Vecchio at Sunset

Another awesome photo of the beautiful old bridge!

This picture does not do tonight's sunset justice.

Hazy Firenze

Don't let the cranes ruin the picture.

Reading Under the Tuscan Sun under the Tuscan sun

Palazzo Vecchio

Big fish

You'll see the (cough) moderate amount of stuff I purchased today, all for under 75E!

After this long and fun day of eating and shopping, I hiked up to Piazzale Michelangelio and had a cocktail. I am reading "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Frances Mayes while I'm here. I know it's cliche, but I never read the book and heard that it was a lot better than the movie. Only one gelato for today from Santa Trinita: Crema and Dark Chocolate. I had pasta bolognese from a nice little restaurant on the other side of the Arno, with a real tasty glass of vino rosso della casa. 


Goodnight, Firenze.

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